*If anyone wondered about any of the books written by prolific and unapologetic acclaimed novelist Toni Morrison then her documentary, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” is a must see.
Bringing the renowned Pulitzer winner’s life to the screen is director and friend of 28-years, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. It’s not just piercing prose that educator Morrison is known for but being woke, and disseminating black, historical facts.
In “The Pieces I Am,” there is a glimpse into writing books such as “Beloved,” “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula,” “Jazz,” and “The Song of Solomon.” In an exclusive conversation with Greenfield-Sanders, he talked about the beloved Toni Morrison, onscreen and off.
Timothy, how did this project come into being?
About 10-years-ago, when I was working on the ‘Black List’ project, inspired by her, I started to think about different people that would be important to do films about and thought the first one to do is Toni Morrison. About five years ago I’m thinking she’s in her 80s, so sooner is better than later. I asked her if she would consider it and she didn’t say no, so that was a good sign.
When some friendships don’t last longer than two years, how did yours last 28?
I think it was a great trust between us all these years. I said to her the other day people ask why am I making a film about you. I tell them there’s a trust between us. And she said, ‘I still trust you.’ It made me feel so good.
Some portions of the film are like a history lessons. Were you surprised to learn it was illegal for blacks to read or be taught?
I wasn’t aware of it. There are so many things like that in the film. I was talking to a white interviewer the other day and she brought that up. She said she was shocked to see that in the film.
Did you learn anything new about Toni while making the film?
I learnt so much researching her life and all the things that she’s been involved in. Things like how important her family is to her, what it was like being a single mother of two boys, and other things that became much more important in my understanding of her.
When I look back at all my years with Tony, I see a certain confidence in her that is so admirable. I’ve photographed so many famous people and so many celebrities, and very few people have the kind of strength as a person that I think Toni Morrison has. It’s kind of amazing the wisdom she possesses, and I wanted that to come through in the film.
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